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Flexible Metallic Overwrap Concept Developed for On-Orbit Repair of Space Shuttle Orbiter Leading EdgesThe Columbia accident has focused attention on the critical need for on-orbit repair concepts for leading edges in the event that damage is incurred during space shuttle orbiter flight. Damage that is considered as potentially catastrophic for orbiter leading edges ranges from simple cracks to holes as large as 16 in. in diameter. NASA is particularly interested in examining potential solutions for areas of larger damage since such a problem was identified as the cause for the Columbia disaster. One possible idea for the on-orbit repair of the reinforced carbon/carbon (RCC) leading edges is an overwrap concept that would use a metallic sheet flexible enough to conform to the contours of the orbiter and robust enough to protect any problem area from catastrophic failure during reentry. The simplified view of the application of a refractory metal sheet over a mockup of shuttle orbiter panel 9, which experiences the highest temperatures on the shuttle during reentry is shown. The metallic overwrap concept is attractive because of its versatility as well as the ease with which it can be included in an onboard repair kit. Reentry of the orbiter into Earth's atmosphere imposes extreme requirements on repair materials. Temperatures can exceed 1650 C for up to 15 min in the presence of an extremely oxidizing plasma environment. Several other factors are critical, including catalysity, emissivity, and vibrational and aerodynamic loads. Materials chosen for this application will need to be evaluated with respect to high-temperature capability, resistance to oxidation, strength, coefficient of thermal expansion, and thermal conductivity. The temperature profile across panel 9 during reentry as well as a schematic of the overwrap concept itself is shown.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Ritzert, Frank J.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Nesbitt, James A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 2005
Publication Information
Publication: Research and Technology 2004
Subject Category
Space Transportation And Safety
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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